I love a good party as much as the next person, but when you are the host, there is a lot of work behind the scenes that needs to happen to make sure the event runs smoothly. If you get it right, your guests wouldn’t have the slightest inkling you had done anything other than put out a few extra cups and hung up some bunting.
So when I noticed Garden to Table, the great program that gets kids in schools not only growing food, but eating it too, was having a garden party fundraiser, I thought why not. I like a party, and even better a tea party, and even better than that a garden party, so I put my hand up to host an event in my garden. I could also show off my newly glazed dome and besides, I’m all about getting kids to garden – I wrote a BOOK about it!
I checked out the details on the website and decided the best date would be the latest possible on the calendar – so I’d have time to prepare. I gave myself a month, that should be plenty of time to get things sorted. But what I hadn’t factored in was an extended period of holiday smack bang in the middle of my plans. Not only did I have the distraction of Easter and ANZAC days, which are both occasions that require due respect and acknowledgement, there was also the school holidays in which also needed family time so teen screen time was suitably restricted. It is just as well I’d chosen the late date.
The good thing was the weather was on my side and I threw myself into getting the garden party ready. There had been some neglect due to the whole wisdom tooth / holiday business, but probably no one would have noticed but me. But pride was at stake. I love showing off my garden and am proud of all I have achieved. I wanted it looking its very best. I evicted every weed I could find, I removed long finished crops that should have been taken out weeks ago, I transplanted new seedlings into bare beds. I even sowed cover crop seeds that I could only tell people about as they had yet to show their faces… but I knew they were there. I sharpened the edges of the paths and cleared the fence line of the dreaded kikuyu attempting to enter the garden. I swept out the dome and rearranged everything that had been dumped in there knowing it would be sorted at a later date.
I worked hard and returned to the house each night weary but happy knowing I was on track. To be fair, my system of doing one group of beds on a Monday and then the next group on a Tuesday and so on had paid off as there was only the shadow of work to be done than if I was using the ‘weed the weediest first’ system. Experience has taught me you never get on top of that one in a large garden – you just chase your tail from one nightmare to another. I also had the good fortune of gorgeous autumnal days where the sky was blue with just enough warmth in the sun to feel comfortable without overheating with the effort of hard work. Besides all that effort was for a good cause.
I put out the call “who wants to come and see my garden and help kids grow food?” It was an exclusive party with limited numbers, because of the parking situation. I would have welcomed more but there just wasn’t the room. I have dreams on day for space for bus parking. That isn’t too ambitious is it?
When not in the garden I set about baking all manner of cakes and treats. We had feijoa muffins, beetroot muffins, chocolate zucchini bread, dehydrated marrow chips that had been marinated in onions, garlic and lemon. I made a dip from peppers and chilli with cream cheese and there was zucchini relish to go with the cheese and crackers. There was also a platter of fresh watermelon and Honeydew melon, freshly harvested. All of the vegetables had come from the garden. Good friends were to help me lay the table and hang up the bunting. After a week of wonderful weather I took a deep breath and looked around. I was ready. The garden was ready. The party was ready.
The day of the party dawned, and it was raining – a lot. Normally I’d celebrate rain, to fill the tank and water the garden. But not today. It couldn’t rain on my party. But with the faith that it would be alright I did my final preparation without a plan B. There was no cancelling this party come rain or shine. And as people arrived the weather swung in my favour, the rain clouds receded, the sun came out and we sipped tea, nibbled on cake and I was able to share my garden to the loveliest group of people and raised some money so some kids could grow food. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
Thank you to everyone who came along.
Come again soon – there is still more to put in and take out of the garden, but there’s no hurry.
Sarah the Gardener : o)